Bad Breath in Dogs and Cats

When you notice bad breath in your cat or dog, even when it isnít a problem for you, it may well be a big problem for your pet. Bad breath in dogs and cats is often a sign of other health disorders.

Tooth and Gum Problems
Tooth and gum problems are the most common reasons for bad breath in dogs and cats with tartar (plaque) build up, which is the major cause of oral health problems. Aside from giving your pet foul smelling breath, tooth tartar in pets is the precursor to other oral problems. Plaque clings to your petís teeth, causing gums to become inflamed and recede. The yellow coating that noticeably clings to your petís teeth is actually a mixture of blood from gum tissue and tartar.

Tooth and gum problems are most severe in purebred cats and smaller dogs. The Maltese dog has the highest rate of tooth and gum disease of all.

As well as your adult dog or cat, your puppy or kitten may have noticeable bad breath. Halitosis in immature animals usually occurs most often when the pet is teething. Fever may accompany bad breath in teething animals. Lightly brushing your petís teeth with a diluted solution of baking soda both provides your cat or dog with relief as well as neutralizing the petís bad breath.

Systemic Illnesses
Bad breath in older pets may be attributed to kidney disease, liver problems or other systemic disorders.

When young cats have bad breath accompanied by dental disease, it may be a sign of feline leukemia or feline immunodiffiency disease (i.e. feline aids). When screening for leukemia and aids is negative, the catís bad breath problem is often resorptive dental disease a disorder where deep cavities form simultaneously in several teeth without apparent cause and the roots of the teeth are exposed. Cleaning the teeth of cats with resorptive dental disease is not effective. Generally, if the teeth donít fall out, they need to be removed.

Diagnosing Dental Problems in Dogs and Cats
Dogs and cats with chronic dental problems often drool. Prolonged wetness combines with the infection, causing inflammation of your petís lips and the tissues surrounding them as well as their gums. Cleaning your petís teeth generally resolves all the problems of infection, inflammation, your petís bad breath.

Even if you choose to forgo annual vaccinations of your cat or dog, you should provide your pet with a yearly veterinary checkup that includes a dental exam.

Treating Bad Breath in Dogs and Cats
Some veterinarians and pet experts assert that canned food is the absolute worst type of food for your petís dental care. A good commercial brand of dry pet food helps retard plaque growth. Crunchy biscuits massage gums and help wear away tartar. In fact, some dry foods are specially designed to minimize plaque buildup and promote good dental health for your pet and others include enzymes in their ingredients that are effective in dissolving cat and dog tooth tartar.

Chew treats such as rawhide bones often included enzymes that minimize plaque. Many nylon bone chew toys are also impregnated with plaque dissolving enzymes. However, dog biscuits are of no value in preventing tartar buildup.

Brushing your pet's teeth maintains healthy teeth and gums and helps keep your petís breath sweet. To brush your cat or dogís teeth, use a child's soft-bristled toothbrush and a pet toothpaste that is either meat or malt flavored.

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